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Sansa, Gemma; Carlson, Chad; Doyle, Werner; Weiner, Howard L; Bluvstein, Judith; Barr, William; Devinsky, Orrin
"Medically refractory epilepsy in autism"
Epilepsia 2011 Jun; 52(6):1071-1075
Purpose: Epilepsy and electroencephalographic abnormalities are frequent in idiopathic autism, but there is little information regarding treatment-resistant epilepsy (TRE) in this group. We sought to define the clinical and electrophysiologic characteristics and treatment outcomes in these patients. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed clinical and laboratory data of patients with idiopathic autism evaluated at NYU Epilepsy Center during a 20-year period. Key Findings: One hundred twenty-seven patients had idiopathic autism and at least one epileptic seizure; 33.9% had TRE and 27.5% were seizure free. The remaining 38.6% of patients had infrequent seizures or insufficient data to categorize. Patients with TRE had a significantly earlier onset of seizures than seizure-free patients, and a trend for more developmental regression and motor and language delays. Three patients had surgical resection (two had limited improvement and one had no improvement) and one had an anterior callosotomy (no improvement). Vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) implantation provided limited improvement (2 patients) and no improvement (7). Significance: This study found that TRE is common in idiopathic autism and more common with early age of seizure onset. Relatively few patients underwent surgical resection due to multifocal partial epilepsy, comorbid generalized epilepsy, or limited impact of ongoing partial seizures given other problems related to autism. Our small sample suggests that surgical and VNS outcomes in this group are less favorable than in other TRE populations

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